ACRIA & SAKS FIFTH AVENUE HOST LUNCHEON FOR LEAP FOR GIRLS

ACRIA’s Executive Director Benjamin Bashein, Saks Fifth Avenue SVP & Fashion Director Roopal Patel, and Julia Sherman, author of Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists, hosted an intimate luncheon celebrating ACRIA's Leadership Empowerment and Awareness Program (LEAP) for Girls. Part of ACRIA’s newly launched Love Heals Youth Education Program, LEAP for Girls trains a new generation of community educators and activists in East Harlem, Central Brooklyn, and the Bronx—NYC communities of color experiencing the highest incidence of HIV. LEAP for Girls equips young women by strengthening their leadership abilities—including public speaking, conflict resolution, and decision-making skills—and educating them about self-esteem, HIV prevention, and sexual health. To date, over 650 young women have graduated from LEAP for Girls who, have in turn reached nearly 15,000 of their peers through community action projects. Additionally, by supporting LEAP for Girls alumnae as they go off to college (and they are often the first in their family to do so) the program helps young women strengthen their sense of self. ACRIA’s expansion into the important field of youth education began in 2017 with the acquisition of Love Heals: The Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education.

The three-course menu at this exciting first-ever event focused on seasonal salads and was designed by Julia Sherman, multimedia artist, photographer, blogger and, most recently, author of the newly published cookbook Salad For President: A Cookbook Inspired By Artists (Abrams Books, May 2017) containing more than 75 recipes with contributions and interviews by artists and creative professionals like William Wegman, Tauba Auerbach, Laurie Anderson, and Alice Waters. To learn more visit saladforpresident.com. 

To see more images of the event, click here
 

ACRIA Welcomes the Legendary Dionne Warwick as our Goodwill Ambassador

We are delighted to announce that legendary entertainer, Dionne Warwick, has partnered with ACRIA to increase public awareness about the devastating impact of HIV on people over 50, especially African American women. Her public service announcements (PSAs) bring a new and important focus on women and HIV, the use of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), and older adults and HIV.

 

Ms. Warwick has been a leader in the fight against HIV for 30 years and was among the first celebrities to publicly announce her support for efforts to combat the disease. Her PSAs for ACRIAcoincide with Women's History Month and the annual observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

"Through the release of these PSAs, I am honored to join forces with ACRIA and thousands of fellow AIDS activists across the country who are renewing efforts to raise awareness, develop public policies, and target funding to support HIV prevention, treatment and care," said Ms. Warwick. "Despite great progress in scientific research and prevention, HIV continues to exact a heavy toll on communities of color, including adults over the age of 50 and African American women, who are too often forgotten in this epidemic."

"We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Warwick as ACRIA's Goodwill Ambassador and recognize her steadfast leadership in the fight against HIV," said Benjamin Bashein, Executive Director. "Ms. Warwick embraced HIV/AIDS activism at a time when stigma against the disease was at its worst, when most public figures refused to associate their names and celebrity with the cause. We are truly excited about her participation in our work to educate millions of Americans, anew, about HIV, and by so doing, prevent its transmission."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.2 million Americans are estimated to be living with HIV as of 2015, and 50% are estimated to be over the age of 50. By 2020, that number will rise to 70%. Although many older adults do not believe that they are susceptible to HIV or any other sexually transmitted infection, one in six new cases of HIV infection occurs in people over 50 years old. Older adults are also less likely to get tested for HIV.

In addition, women account for almost 20% of the estimated 45,000 new HIV infections that occur each year in the U.S. Among all women diagnosed with HIV in 2014, an estimated 62% were African American women.

JASON WU TALKS ART, AUCTIONS AND AIDS AWARENESS

In 1991 a group of activists, doctors, and people with HIV formed the first community-driven coalition with the goal of studying new treatments for the disease: Twenty-five years later, the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) has helped develop 20 different medicines approved by the FDA and continues to make advances in the field. Tonight, ACRIA joins forces with the fashion, art, and design worlds for its 23rd annual Unframed auction to benefit the Artists Ending AIDS Fund. The event at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, is chaired by fashion icon Jason Wu, who has long been involved with ACRIA' s mission to provide support and education to communities suffering from or at risk for the disease. We spoke with the designer about his involvement with the group, his interest in art, and his thoughts on the auction. 
 

Architectural Digest: How did you get involved with ACRIA? 
Jason Wu: My relationship with ACRIA formed very organically. I am very passionate about their mission of education and furthering understanding of the newest developments in the fight against AIDS. I am very pleased that we have ACRIA as a platform for New York's creative communities to be more engaged with this issue.

AD: What's the relationship between the art, fashion, and design worlds and HIV research? 
JW: The Unframed auction has been an event that, for the past 23 years, has brought together some of the most influential artists and designers for a cause that we truly believe in. Many of us, including myself, believe that activism through art is important, and Unframed is an outlet that allows us to come together to maintain progress in HIV research.

AD: Where do you go to buy art? 
JW: In New York the Gagosian Gallery always has really interesting and provocative exhibitions. 

AD: What do you look for when buying art? 
JW: I usually gravitate toward pieces that trigger an immediate inspiration. I particularly like works by Cy Twombly.

AD: What's one of the most unusual places you've ever bought great art? 
JW: I was vacationing in Uruguay, staying at Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio. In my suite was this great artwork by local artist Marcelo Legrand. The Estancia staff actually arranged a visit for me to meet Marcelo! I had to have one of his ink murals, which is now in my New York studio-it's quite the souvenir.

AD: What are some of your favorite works that you own? 
JW: A 2016 Hunt Slonem oil-on-wood painting. I had the opportunity to meet Hunt, and I was enthralled by his wild array of paintings, sculptures, and his remarkable studio. 

AD: Did any of the works in the auction surprise you? What's one work you' re really excited about? 
JW: This year's works are all so incredibly strong. I was definitely moved by Costa Vece' s collages; there's something subtle yet striking about them. As far as work I'm excited about, I think Glenn Ligon is an exceptional artist who not only creates inspiring works but also has proven to be an extremely important cultural voice. I'm thrilled that Unframed will be exhibiting his fantastic work this year.

AD: What is the importance of charity auctions? 
JW: Charity auctions, especially Unframed, act as a way to benefit these organizations that better our society while also offering an occasion to come together and celebrate some of the best contemporary artists. This year's participants have been so generous in donating their works to continue progress in HIV research. I'm delighted to be part of this event, and I am looking forward to seeing ACRIA maintain this progress. As artists and designers, the best thing we can do is create work that can in turn give back to the community. 

ACRIA BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPOINTS BENJAMIN BASHEIN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

NEW YORK CITY -- ACRIA’s Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Benjamin Bashein as the organization’s Executive Director. Mr. Bashein had been serving as Acting Executive Director following the departure of Daniel Tietz in June.

Mr. Bashein joined ACRIA as Director of Development & Communications in 2007, supervising all of the organization’s fundraising, marketing communications and public relations activities; and when he assumed the Deputy Executive Director role in 2012 his portfolio was expanded to include finance, operations, and strategic planning. “With over seven years in leadership roles at ACRIA, Benjamin is uniquely qualified to oversee the organization,” noted Stewart Shining, President of the ACRIA Board. “During his tenure, he has played a key role in tripling ACRIA’s budget, diversifying its sources of funding, and strengthening its role in the HIV community. The Board of Directors and I are deeply confident in his ability to ensure the organization’s continued success in the groundbreaking HIV research, education, and advocacy for which it is known.”

In his new capacity as Executive Director, Mr. Bashein will provide programmatic management, as well as organization-wide direction and strategic vision to advance ACRIA’s mission.

Press Inquiries: 
Sarah Ogden, Development Manager, (212) 924-3934 ext. 104, sogden@acria.org